SIERRA VISTA — In the last several weeks, U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Tucson sector have arrested at least eight convicted sex offenders trying to sneak back into the United States.
All of the men had been deported at least once — and some of them twice — after being convicted sex-related crimes in the U.S. After serving their time, they were sent back to their country of origin, Border Patrol officials said.
“This is a problem we’re beginning to see more and more,” said Tucson Sector Border Patrol spokesman Agent Jesus Vasavilbaso. “We are seeing people who are sex offenders trying to come back.”
Officials aren’t sure why they have seen so many recently. Also, there were no statistics immediately available on the number of undocumented sex offenders who have been convicted in the U.S. and have tried to slip back in.
Vasavilbaso said one possible theory is that these individuals committed their offenses in the U.S., they served time in the U.S., “and they probably see this as their home.”
When they are sent back to their countries of origin, usually authorities there are not notified that the person being deported has been convicted and served time in the U.S. for a sex offense, or any other crime for that matter, Vasavilbaso said.
The same occurs in the reverse — unless the country of origin is looking for the suspect and officials would have to notify other nations of that individual’s crimes, no notice is given to counterpart officials in the U.S.
Mexico Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua do not have sex-offender registries.
One of the many drawbacks of not having information on individuals deported to Mexico or Central America is that in their quest to return to the U.S., many of these convicts hook up with large groups of people who are also trying to get to this country. Sometimes those groups include families with children, Vasavilbaso said.
“A lot of time these people (the families) don’t know who they are traveling with,” Vasavilbaso said.
In early September, Tucson sector Border Patrol agents arrested a group of undocumented people being spirited into the country by a U.S. citizen. The driver had five or six individuals in a Toyota when he was stopped just outside Hereford in Cochise County.
One of the people in the car was Heliodoro Regino Garcia, a 44-year-old Mexican national who had been deported in 2012 and again in 2016. Records showed Regino-Garcia was convicted of molesting a minor and sexual battery in 2015 by Georgia authorities.
The group he was traveling with was a family with children, Vasavilbaso said.
This past week, convicted child molester Adrian Castro-Garcia, 33, was caught after he got lost in the desert outside Sells, and called for help. He was convicted of sex with a minor in 2013 and again in 2014, by Los Angeles County authorities. In both cases Castro-Garcia was sentenced to more than 150 days of incarceration. He was also deported after serving each sentence.
And in mid-August, convicted child rapist Carlos Blancas-Rojas, 37, was caught hiding in a wash near the Brian A. Terry Border Patrol Station just outside Bisbee. Like the others, Blancas -Rojas had been deported twice. He was convicted of raping a minor in Washington state in 2008 and currently has an outstanding warrant in Washington, Border Patrol officials said.
Vasavilbaso said people who re-enter the U.S. after being deported are usually charged with illegal re-entry of a felon. The Border Patrol then hands them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“A judge then decides what happens to them,” Vasavilbaso said.